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Body Snatching! Heads Exploding! Time Travel! The SciFi Marathon Returns!

Hope Madden Hope Madden Body Snatching! Heads Exploding! Time Travel! The SciFi Marathon Returns!
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How best to shake off that St. Patrick’s Day partying? Maybe 24 straight hours of SciFi? That’s just good common sense.

Luckily, the Drexel Theatre has your hangover cure, as the 30th annual Science Fiction Marathon takes the place from noon Saturday, March 18 to noon-ish Sunday, March 19.

How SciFi is it? Last year was the 33rd annual event – that’s hard core time travel stuff right there.

Identity crises and double vision seem to be the themes for this year’s event. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1958 and 1978) bookend the program, with a double dose of Dune as things roll into the evening.

“The Dune pairing is one of those happy accidents that often enliven the event,” says Joe Neff, co-curator. Producer Stephen Scarlata appeared at the Drexel’s horror marathon last year with Beyond the Gates, and his Q&A unexpectedly veered to his 2013 documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune.

“Stephen’s a great guy and a true genre fan,” Joe says. “Once we learned even more about his passion for the Dune universe (the Dune-iverse?), it seemed natural to bring him back out to hold court with the Science Fiction audience.”

Says Bruce Bartoo, Neff’s co-conspirator, of the Body Snatchers pairing, “We have, on several occasions, bookended the Marathons with pairs like these two. Exploring how various filmmakers approach similar topics can sometimes be rewarding, sometimes amusing.”

The middle of the lineup holds the Midwest premier of Nick DiLiberto’s hand-animated Nova Seed.

“DiLiberto essentially created the film by himself over the span of four years,” says Neff. “It’s a psychedelic slice of animation that’s drawn comparisons to the works of Moebius and Miyazaki. In one way, you can see a connection with the wild imaginative instinct on display in Dune and Jodorowsky’s Dune. But it also fits in with the pure speculative, progressive nature of science fiction at its best.”

The middle of the night can be a tough slot to fill. Cult comedy and head splatter will work together to keep the audience awake without overtesting their late night brain power.

John Carpenter’s intergalactic comedy Dark Star is followed in the wee hours by David Cronenberg’s memorable Scanners.

According to Neff, “Believe it or not, in 30 years of Science Fiction Marathons (and 29 years of Horror Marathons) we’ve never shown Scanners! In fact, it’s the last of the classic, pre-Dead Ringers Cronenberg canon that we haven’t shown. So it seemed high time to correct that omission.”


Another “finally showing it” flick in the program is James Gunn’s underappreciated 2006 creature feature Slither.

Slither has a long and storied history of cancellations at the marathons,” says Neff. “We first tried to show it at the 2007 Science Fiction Marathon, but the print didn’t show up. Then the print showed up for the 2010 Horror Marathon, but we had a premiere come through at the last minute, so it replaced Slither. We tried a third time to show it at the 2011 Horror Marathon; the print made it to Columbus, but became lost in an odd UPS purgatory. Ever since, we’ve known that the day would come to finally unleash it upon this audience. And a 30th Anniversary seemed the perfect time to do so.”

As is always the case, aside from the films you can expect the odd assortment of trailers, contests and assorted whatnot.

Says Neff, “Following a near riot over last year’s absence from the lineup, the legendary Marathon short Spaceboy will, indeed, be back where it belongs, unspooling on the big screen for a (mostly) appreciative audience.”

Bartoo says to expect “the usual litany of extras – and one of the most fun audiences anywhere in the galaxy.”

Plus cake!


Full Science Fiction Marathon Lineup

  • Noon: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
  • 2pm: City of Lost Children
  • 5pm: Dune
  • 8pm: Producer Stephen Scarlata introduces Jodorowsky’s Dune
  • 10:30pm: Seconds
  • 1am: Nova Seed
  • 2:30am: Dark Star
  • 4am: Scanners
  • 6am: The World’s End
  • 8:10am Slither
  • 10am: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Tickets are $40 in advance and $45 day of, and they’re available at the Drexel Theatre (2254 E. Main St.), Laughing Ogre Comics (4258 N. High St.) and at scifimarathon.com

Read more from Hope at MADDWOLF and listen to her bi-weekly horror podcast, FRIGHT CLUB.

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